Danny McMahon is a UK based country singer-songwriter. I know what you might be thinking; the page is called Undiscovered Nashville. However, I discovered Danny McMahon playing in Nashville while he was visiting last year. Undiscovered Nashville is grateful for the opportunity to tell Danny’s story in celebration of his new single.
Danny McMahon: Songwriter by Accident?
McMahon has an unlikely story, but somewhat typical of a young boy growing up. McMahon said, “I learned to play the piano when I was eleven years old, but I was big into sports. I played a lot of soccer when I was younger, so I wasn’t so into my music. I probably wrote my first song at fourteen years old, actually by complete accident.”
Most songwriters begin writing as a way to process emotions, but Danny started as part of enrichment week activities at his school. McMahon said, “We have this thing in school at the end of 9th grade called enrichment week. You go off and do a task you enjoy doing before school ends for the summer. I had been sick, and I hadn’t gotten to pick the option I wanted. So I got chucked into the music class. The task was to go into a recording studio, and they gave us a chord progression to write a melody over top of it.
McMahon accomplished his task in a short time. The singer-songwriter said, “I hadn’t written a song in my life, but I sat down and programmed the melody and finished all the lyrics in an hour. The teacher said you have a natural knack for this, and you should continue it through. That was my first sort of understanding of songwriting. From that point on, I fell in love with the idea of writing my material.”
Music was in Danny McMahon’s Blood
While Danny admits that he wrote his first song by accident, the singer-songwriter had music in his blood. It seems a music career was inevitable.
McMahon said, “My dad’s side of the family is from Dublin, Ireland, and they are all musical. My great grandmother was the number one piano player for the silent movie houses in Dublin. My grandfather was an accordion player, and a great uncle played clarinet in a military band.”
Danny’s father played an essential role in his development as a guitar player. The singer-songwriter said, “My dad was in a band called Profile, which was a prob rock band in the late 70s and early 80s. My dad is the one who taught me how to play guitar. Basically, we sat around jamming to classic rock like ACDC, Zepplin, and Black Sabbath. He would show me chord progressions. I discovered James Taylor, and my dad broke down the James Taylor stuff on an acoustic guitar.”
The Love of Country Music
Country music has not been mainstream in the UK, but it is a growing genre. So for Danny McMahon, he fell in love with the storytelling aspect of country music. The storytelling is probably why most people love country music as well. It is real life in a song. McMahon said, “As far as country music is concerned, I properly discovered country music when my friend played Brad Paisley for me.”
The singer-songwriter described how that Brad Paisley song affected him. Danny said, “I was working as a session guitarist at the time I heard the song “Letter to Me.” I was blown away by the whole idea of it, and how he turned that idea and sang from the perspective of writing a letter back to himself.”
Danny McMahon turned from being a pop writer to country music after hearing Paisley’s song. McMahon said, “I was doing some pop writing at the time, and I thought that’s what I’m missing in my life right now. I ventured into it bit by bit really, and I discovered more and more country music. Country music is not really played on the radio in the UK. It was refreshing to discover a new type of music.”
The Best Part About Songwriting and Performing
Songwriting can give a rush when you complete a song and know its good. We asked Danny about his favorite part of songwriting. McMahon said, “For me, 100 percent, its got to be the moment where you tell a story or create a piece of music that means something to you. When you play a live show, you see how it relates to other people. To share that level of emotional relatability with the people in the audience, that is the reason I write songs.”
Performing energizes when you see the crowd is into it. When talking about performing, McMahon said, “For me as a country artist, I got asked to play a couple of shows in America early on. However, for me, the big thing was to try and establish myself in the UK. I am doing the modern county/pop thing, and there are not that many people doing it. That level of acceptance was tough in the beginning.
Danny continued describing his most memorable moment on stage in his first summer as a country artist. The singer-songwriter said, “In my first summer, I played the Buckle and Boots Festival, which is a pretty big deal over here. I was on at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday, and I didn’t think anyone would be there. I walked out and saw about 350 people. It was incredible having the crowd singing my songs back to me. When we finished our set, the noise of the audience was so loud, and I just stood back and took it in. It brought tears to my eyes, and I walked off with my head in my hand.”
Danny McMahon To Release “My Kinda City”
On May 15th, Danny McMahon will release his latest single, “My Kinda City.” McMahon co-wrote the song with Nashville based songwriter, Tyler Bank. McMahon met Bank last year while visiting Nashville. McMahon said, “While I was in Nashville, one of my first writer’s nights was at Belcourt Taps. I think Tyler played in the round after me. Honestly, I think that was one of the best writer’s rounds I had ever seen. They had such great chemistry, and as I listened to Tyler play, I thought I would buy your music. So I went up to him after and said, I am in town for another couple of weeks, do you want to write a song together?
Fortunately, Bank ended up having someone cancel, and the two of them were able to get together and write, “My Kinda City.” McMahon said, “We were talking about the things we have in common as a musician. It’s about the idea of going to all these places and seeing all these things, but it’s nice to come home to something or someone special.
McMahon had glowing words of praise for Nashville. Danny said, “I love how people in Nashville are so willing to help. I think that is one thing we could benefit from in the UK scene. The idea of anyone’s success is your success.”
What does the future hold for Danny McMahon?
With so much uncertainty surrounding live shows at the moment, Danny is still hopeful that he can get out and tour. The singer-songwriter also has plans to come back to Nashville. McMahon is planning to release two more singles this year. In the meantime, check out the music he has out currently and pre-save “My Kinda City.” Follow Danny McMahon on social media to keep with the singer-songwriter.